Multispectral imaging of potato to improve yields under drought stress

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Sch of Agriculture Policy and Dev


In 2016, 5.4 million tonnes of potatoes were produced in the UK covering 139,000 hectares, which was worth over £1 billion to the UK economy (FAOSTAT, 2018). In light of this, new agronomic methods and understanding are needed to protect crops from threats such as climate change. Potato yield and sustainable production is severely affected by drought and heat stress. If available water is below 75-80% in Growth Stage II (vegetative growth) and III (tuber initiation) then losses can be between 5 and 10%. If below 90% during Stage IV (tuber bulking) however, losses can be between 40 and 60% (OMAFRA, 2012).

With extremes in UK summer temperatures and periods of drought likely to increase due to climate change, the proposed project will assess the implications of local soil organic matter (SOM) content upon cultivar performance between UK growing regions, and under the effects of drought. SOM has been linked with cultivar performance under abiotic stress conditions. The differences between UK growing regions may therefore contribute to yield/loss outcomes, and have implications for the grower when selecting the best cultivar for their soil type.

This project aims to address these issues through use of advanced multispectral imaging (using a pair of cameras that use wavelengths of light to image plant surfaces and architecture in three dimensions) and fibre-optic technology (which consists of a cable below the soil surface that can detect changes in temperature and moisture content), in combination with measurements of soil composition and quality, leaf metabolites and gene expression. We aim to correlate canopy properties under stress with yield and quality, and advise growers on suitable amendment strategies according to their cultivar choice and soil type.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/T509036/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023
2267423 Studentship BB/T509036/1 23/09/2019 30/09/2023 Dominic HILL